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Sports TV: weekend in review

tom jones' two cents

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

Best coverage

Thankfully, we've reached the portion of the baseball postseason when Fox gets involved. It is broadcasting the American League Championship Series while TBS handles the National League series. Fox also will do the World Series.

Picking on TBS at this point just feels mean.

It has been a rough postseason for TBS, rougher than in previous years. Its broadcasts should improve now that the first-team analyst duo of Cal Ripken Jr. and Ron Darling are doing all its remaining games.

Oddly, a lot of what people didn't like about TBS's coverage to date — Pedro Martinez, Gary Sheffield and Keith Olbermann in the studio, for example — I thought was pretty good. Still, it's clear Fox has a superior product. Maybe it's because it has more money. Maybe it has cooler toys. Maybe its personnel is just better.

But watching a game on TBS is like having a cheeseburger. Fox is like having a good steak.

Most interesting replacement

Tim McCarver's stint as a baseball broadcaster is nearing an end. The Fox analyst is retiring after the World Series.

When McCarver announced his plans in spring training, TBS's Ron Darling was considered among the leading candidates to replace him. But not now that Darling has signed an extension with Turner, which runs TBS.

"Turner was aggressive in coming and saying, 'Hey, let's continue this relationship,' " Darling told the New York Daily News. "They didn't have to do that. That said a lot about my work with them, and it says a lot about them as a company. … My decision to stay (at Turner) wasn't hard at all."

So that leaves the Fox position wide open. Plenty of candidates are out there, though I'm not sure how many elite candidates are. I've written this before, but if I were Fox, I'd approach ESPN's Curt Schilling about the job.

Most interesting news

Fox NFL Sunday analyst Jimmy Johnson and reporter Jay Glazer were clear that former Bucs QB Josh Freeman (above left) was brought to Minnesota to be the Vikings' starter.

Glazer said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier originally told Freeman that starter Christian Ponder (above right, in front of Vikings backup Matt Cassell) could not lose his starting job to injury.

"That has changed," Glazer said.

Freeman was not active Sunday, and Glazer said Freeman likely wouldn't start next week but would the week after. Then again, that timetable might get moved up after Minnesota's embarrassing 35-10 loss to the Panthers.

Biggest return

ESPN college football analyst David Pollack was back on College GameDay on Saturday, a week after saying he didn't want women on the committee to select the teams to compete for the national championship.

Pollack tried to explain on Twitter that what he meant was he wanted people on the committee who were immersed in college football. But at the time, when host Chris Fowler who threw Pollack an anchor instead of a lifeline — asked if he thought women didn't belong on the committee, Pollack said yes.

I'm not condoning what Pollack said, but I don't think he meant it as badly as it sounded. And it's my guess Pollack has learned his lesson. It's good to see ESPN didn't overreact.

Most awkward

Most uncomfortable moment of the weekend? Well, if Lane Kiffin forgot he was fired by Southern Cal, he was reminded on national TV Saturday. Fans from the University of Washington, which hosted ESPN's College GameDay, chanted to Kiffin while he was on set: "You got fired."

Best analysis

Good work by Sun Sports hockey analyst Bobby "Chief" Taylor to point out the needless penalty taken by the Lightning's Richard Panik that set up the Penguins' winning goal on the power play in the final minute of Saturday's game. You can't take penalties 200 feet from your net in a tie game with a minute left in regulation.

Biggest criticism

Fox NFL Sunday analyst Michael Strahan took a couple of shots at Cowboys QB Tony Romo (above), who tends to play extremely well until the deciding moments of games. And that's when he plays not so well.

"Romo is the basketball player who can't hit the clutch shot," Strahan said. "He's the baseball player who hits well in the regular season but can't hit anything in the playoffs. I don't know what it is, but at least he has a long career ahead of him in order to change this."

Three things that popped into my head

1. Michigan football coach Brady Hoke (left) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (right) are the same guy, right?

2. The St. Louis Cardinals are so good, so consistent, so impressive that they have moved into the category of teams I'm officially sick of.

3. Not only is Florida 4-2 with Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina and FSU ahead, but worse for Gators fans, they average only 21.8 points a game, 102nd in Division I-A. Gator Nation does love them some offense.

Sports TV: weekend in review 10/13/13 [Last modified: Sunday, October 13, 2013 10:03pm]
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